Researchers compared the two approaches in 240 patients with plantar warts. In the first method, a healthcare professional froze the wart with liquid nitrogen in up to four treatments. In the second, the patient self-administered 50% salicylic acid daily for eight weeks.
The salicylic acid preparation was stronger than the 15%-26% normally prescribed first-line by GPs, which the authors argued was due to evidence of poor medication adherence in the salicylic acid cohort.
After 12 weeks, 14% of both treatment groups were clear of all warts. 31% of the salicylic acid group were clear after six months and 34% of the cryotherapy group were clear after six months.
Dr Sarah Cockayne, research fellow at the University of York, concluded: ‘Cyrotherapy was associated with higher costs per cured patient, which leads to salicylic acid being a more attractive treatment.’
BMJ 2011, published 7 June